Australia agrees to keep "sherry" true to its Spanish roots
A new agreement between Australia and the European Union ensures the Down Under will identify prestegious wines under a lens of accurate location.Australian wine-makers must stop using prestigious names such as Champagne, Port or Sherry on their bottles under a major deal with Europe which comes into force early September.
Under the agreement, Australia will obtain easier access to the 27-nation European Union, a market worth EUR 643 million (USD 815 million) in exports for the country last year. EU wine exports to Australia were worth EUR 68 million last year, according to the European Commission.
Australia now has one year to phase out the names of drinks protected under the EU labelling regime based on geographic locations, which forces wine-makers outside France's Champagne region to use different names for sparkling wine.
In return, 117 of Australia's geographical indicators, including Coonawarra, Barossa and Margaret River, will be protected in Europe.
"The agreement is a win-win outcome and achieves a balanced result for European and Australian wine makers," European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said.
"Crucially, we have obtained the commitment that Australian wine producers will phase out the use of key EU Geographical Indications and traditional expressions for wine. This is of utmost importance for European producers."
Europeans are striving to protect the names of regional and traditional foods originating from specific regions, such as Parmesan cheese made in Parma, Italy, or Britain's Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb.
The Australian wine industry has already moved away from calling sparkling wines Champagne and there had been no backlash from consumers as a result, according to the government's Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.
One Australian bubbly has sold for more than AUD 200 (USD 178) without having to rely on its former descriptive, the corporation's general manager for trade, Steve Guy, said.
Champagne is made in a specific region of France, Port in Portugal and Sherry in Spain's Jerez region.
Other names Australians will no longer be allowed to use include Burgundy, Chablis, Graves, Manzanilla, Marsala, Moselle, Sauterne and White Burgundy.
Australia will be allowed to use the name Tokay, a sweet white wine from a region in Hungary, for another 10 years.
Under the deal with the EU, Australia will also no longer be able to use traditional expressions such as Amontillado, Claret, and Auslese from 1 September 2011, one year after the agreement comes into force.
The new deal outlines conditions under which Australia will be able to continue to use certain terms for quality wines, including "vintage", "cream" and "tawny" for wines exported to Europe and sold domestically.
The agreement, which was signed in Brussels in December 2008, replaces a previous accord that was agreed in 1994.
The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation said there were significant advantages for its exporters in the agreement, as producers will have to make fewer changes and concessions to sell their product in Europe.
The benefits for Australia will include a simpler certification procedure for wines exported to the EU, as well as a more efficient method of recognising wine-making practices.
Laurent Thomet / AFP / Expatica